MLB throws Braun under the bus…again

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:18 pm

Commissioner Bud Selig has done so much for Major League Baseball that he ultimately may end up in Cooperstown.

Still, I would be shocked if he is not conducting a major review of his office’s operating procedures from top to bottom in the aftermath of the Ryan Braun debacle.
And a debacle it is.

The first outrage, of course, was that the results of Braun’s first test for performance-enhancing drugs were leaked. The public should never have even known that he had tested positive in that first test. Period. If the leak came from MLB or one its vendors, it was was an outright violation of the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

Braun denied ever taking the PEDs. The case lingered on for weeks.

Braun’s appeal went to a three-person panel that included a representative from Major League Baseball, a representative from the Major League Baseball Players Association (the players’ union) and Shyam Da, a presumably independent arbitrator.
Not surprisingly, the MLB and the union representatives disagreed about Braun’s appeal, with MLB rep voting against Braun, and the union rep voting for Braun, leaving the arbitrator to decide the case.

The arbitrator sided with Braun, and the appeal of Braun’s suspension was upheld.
Case over, right? Braun is exonerated, right?

You’d think so. But then MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred issued the following statement: “Major League Baseball considers the obligations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program essential to the integrity of our game, our Clubs and all of the players who take the field. It has always been Major League Baseball’s position that no matter who tests positive, we will exhaust all avenues in pursuit of the appropriate discipline. We have been true to that position in every instance, because baseball fans deserve nothing less. As a part of our drug testing program, the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association agreed to a neutral third party review for instances that are under dispute. While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.”

What on earth was accomplished by releasing that statement? That statement indicates that MLB’s official stance is that it believes its National League Most Valuable Player is a cheater. That statement will forever cloud the public’s opinion about Braun. That statement affirms the suspicions that he indeed did cheat, despite the ruling.

Ultimately, that statement tarnishes the game because it casts doubt about one of its brightest stars. What was to be gained by throwing Braun under the bus…
MLB had a process. The process ran its course. MLB should have just accepted the ruling and moved on. Instead, it caused another unnecessary self-inflicted wound.
I have a call in to Major League Baseball. If I hear anything from them about their rationale for doing what they did, I will pass that along in an update.
In the meantime, for the record, here is Braun’s statement about the ruling:

“I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision. It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side. We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances. I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year. I would like to thank my family and friends, my teammates, the Brewers organization led by Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin, Gord Ash and Ron Roenicke, and other players around the league who have expressed their support and our great fans in Milwaukee and around the country who stuck by me and did not rush to judgment. I’d also like to offer special thanks to Michael Weiner and the Players Association for believing in me since day one and to my attorneys. I’d like to thank my agent Nez Balelo and Terry Prince of CAA Sports and Matthew Hiltzik of Hiltzik Strategies for all of their help and counsel through the process. This is not just about one person, but about all current and future players, and thankfully, today the process worked. Despite the challenges of this adversarial process, I do appreciate the professionalism demonstrated by the Panel Chair and the Office of the Commissioner. As I said before, I’ve always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball. Everything I’ve done in my career has been with that respect and appreciation in mind. I look forward to finally being able to speak to the fans and the media on Friday and then returning the focus to baseball and working with my Brewers teammates on defending our National League Central title.”

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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